The federal government has been making the purchase of suppressors, or “silencers,” difficult for Americans ever since 1934, but Donald Trump Jr. is teaming up with gun rights activists and manufacturers to change that.
For those not familiar, suppressors, which are better known as “silencers,” are devices that reduce the amount of noise a gun makes when fired.
Contrary to popular belief, they do not completely negate the noise made, but rather make it a little more tolerable for shooting without ear protection.
For example, here is popular YouTuber Hickok45 shooting a suppressed shotgun:
Trump Jr. and his allies are working on a bill that will make it much easier for Second Amendment supporters to obtain suppressors, but they are using a unique angle: hearing protection.
In a September interview with Utah-based suppressor manufacturer SilencerCo, Trump Jr. explained that making the attachment more accessible will protect the hearing of legal shooters all over the country:
"It’s about safety. It’s a health issue, frankly.
It’s just a great instrument. There’s nothing bad about it at all."
According to The Washington Post, the avid shooter and Second Amendment supporter is pushing for the Hearing Protection Act, which aims to eliminate the $200 tax and nine-month approval process now required to obtain a suppressor.
The bill was once championed by Republican Rep. Matt Salmon (Utah) and Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho) in 2015, but it never made it to committee hearings.
Salmon recently retired, so it is unclear who will be the next congressman to reintroduce the bill.
Trump Jr. has used suppressors to hunt in Europe “where some of the strictest gun laws in the world exist,” but countries like England have very little restriction when it comes to the attachment:
“And guess what? Virtually every hunting gun there is suppressed.”
The 39-year-old pointed his finger at the federal government for passing “arbitrary policies by people who don't know what they're talking about.”
“It's just another rule government wants to put in place for no reason. If Europe can do it, American better well be able to do it. It doesn't make any sense to me.”
Trump Jr. and his supporters aren't without opposition. The Violence Policy Center believes that making suppressors easier to obtain will lead to further gun violence:
"In their public statements, proponents of the bill would like the public and policymakers to believe that silencers are innocuous devices used merely to protect the hearing of shooters, including children.
But in fact, the campaign to deregulate silencers is merely the latest attempt by the gun lobby and gun industry, in the wake of declining household gun ownership, to market yet another military-bred product with little concern for its effect on public safety."
According to WaPo though, suppressors only appeared to be used 153 times for crimes cited in federal cases from 1995-2005.
Despite the restrictions on the accessory, they've been one of the fastest growing gun-related sales.
In 2010, there were 285,087 registered suppressors. In 2016, that number jumped to 902,085.